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Blue Lake Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Blue Lake (Steve Hart)
Rock Lake (Steve Hart)
Meadows near Rock Lake (Steve Hart)
Thomas Lake (Steve Hart)
The route of the Thomas Lake Trail to Blue Lake (bobcat)
Designated Campsites Brochure
  • Start point: Thomas Lake TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End point:Blue Lake
  • Trail Log: Trail Log
  • Hike Type:Out and Back or Backpack
  • Distance: 6.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: Jun-Nov
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: Yes
  • Crowded: No

Contents

Hike Description

This hike starts at the Thomas Lake Trailhead. There are two bits of legal trivia to take care of. First, put your NW Forest Pass in plain site or purchase a $5 day pass at the drop box. Then, you'll need to fill out a wilderness permit and attach it to your pack. If you are backpacking, camping in the Thomas Lake and Blue Lake ares is only allowed in designated campsites. Now, you're ready to start up the trail.

The Thomas Lake Trail (#111) starts in a regrowing clear cut, but soon enters the forest. There's a short climb to the wilderness boundary and you'll reach the first cluster of lakes in about 1/2 mile. On the left, you'll see Dee Lake and on the right, larger Thomas Lake. Soon you'll come to a campsite with views of these two lakes plus Heather Lake, also on the left side of the trail. All of these lakes are fir lined, with typically very calm water. Camping is only permitted in marked campsites in this area. There is one campsite here, two on the west side of Thomas Lake, two on the east side of Thomas Lake and a sixth at nearby Eunice Lake. The main trail heads between the lakes and crosses a small creek on a bridge.

There is an unofficial use path that circles the Thomas Lake. This path provides access to the four Thomas Lake campsites and to Kwaddis Lake, just beyond Thomas Lake.

Continuing on the main trail, you'll soon come to a trail junction. The left fork goes to Eunice Lake, another medium sized lake. The main trail turns right and climbs a hundred feet to another plateau. Look for a side path on the left that leads to a somewhat precarious viewpoint of Eunice Lake and Mount Saint Helens. Just beyond this trail is a large pretty meadow. The trail uses a mix of fills, boardwalks and bridges to cross the wet grass. The trail climbs above a small stream, using one switchback and a long traverse just below the crest of a small ridge. More intrepid hikers might want to cross the ridge and drop down to Brader Lake on the other side.

The main trail leads to Naha Lake then to a trail junction marked by a sign at Rock Lake. An old version of the Crest Trail leads north from here toward Bear Lake. Turn southward, staying on the current Thomas Lake Trail and pass Rock Lake on the left, followed by Little Rock Lake. The trail in this area passes through an endless series of meadows, tarns and ponds. Lake Umtux comes next, about a half mile farther on the right. After that is Lake Sahalee Tyee on the left and finally Blue Lake on the right. The trail eventually reaches the Pacific Crest-Thomas Lake Trail Junction and you have the options of continuing north to East Crater, south to Gifford Peak, or east to Tombstone Lake.

Maps

  • Green Trails Maps: Wind River, WA #397
  • Indian Heaven (USFS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Wilderness, Indian Heaven Wilderness, Trapper Creek Wilderness
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Mt. Adams Ranger District
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Regulations or restrictions, etc

  • NW Forest Pass required to park at trailhead. Dropbox available
  • Wilderness Permit needed. Free at the trailhead
  • Camping closer than 250 feet of Blue Lake, Thomas Lake, Dee, Heather, Eunice, Lake Kwaddis, and Lake Sahalee Tyee is permitted in designated spots only. Click on brochure image for a campsite map with coordinates.

Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this hike

  • Day Hiking Mount Adams and Goat Rocks by Tami Asars
  • Exploring Washington's Wild Areas by Marge & Ted Mueller

Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.